How Koreans consume video ads and what it means for marketers

Junga Jang / April 2016

In today’s multi-screen world, there’s one thing consumers can’t get enough of: video. Koreans’ video consumption behavior has changed drastically in the past few years—and we’ve got new data on when and where people watch video, and how they feel about ads on TV vs on YouTube. Let’s find out more.

In Korea, online video watching now supersedes traditional TV watching. It turns out that more than half (55%) of Koreans’ daily video consumption happens on mobile devices while 23% happens on desktop, and only 22% on TV. And because people are watching more video online, it also means they’re watching more video ads online.

In partnership with Flamingo Research, we gathered qualitative observations on Koreans’ real-world video watching behaviors on TV and online video; we then partnered with TNS to quantify those qualitative insights.

What we learned is that by almost every metric, people preferred online ads over TV ads. Koreans told the researchers that online ads allow for greater choice and are more relevant to their needs.

Let’s dive into the data as we provide four insights that will help marketers better understand and connect with today’s Korean consumers.

1. Viewers are more engaged when watching YouTube ads vs. TV ads

In the ethnography, Flamingo used eye-tracking glasses to observe Koreans’ behavior while watching ads on TV, ads on desktop, and ads on their mobiles. By studying whether they watched, skipped, or ignored the ads, Flamingo was able to determine that users are 3.3X more likely to watch YouTube ads vs. TV ads. Viewers are also 1.7X more likely to engage (as measured by how long they watched) with mobile YouTube ads over TV ads

Even when people are using their mobile in multi-screen settings (like while watching TV or using their desktop), they pay more attention to their smartphone. Based on the total time focused on each device screen when watching video, we found that viewers are 20X less likely to be distracted from their mobile screen when watching videos vs. TV.

This behavior makes sense when you consider that smartphones are intimate, personal devices that people usually hold close to their faces when they’re watching videos. Even when people watch on desktops, they’re usually watching YouTube in shorter bursts of time (rather than leaning back to watch a TV show), so it makes sense that they’re more attentive to what’s on the screen.

Marketer takeaways:

When people are watching YouTube, they’re leaning forward. They’re tuned in. On YouTube, brands have more opportunities to connect with their audiences. To reach these more engaged audiences, marketers should consider shifting advertising dollars and investing more in online video.

2. Online video ads are more memorable, TV ads are more premium

The viewers in our study had very different perceptions of TV ads and online video ads. For TV, they described the ads as high definition, artistic, and beautifully shot. For online video, they describe the ads as fun, humorous, light, and memorable. Online video ads may be seen as more straightforward and less glossy right now, but research shows that can be a good thing for ad recall. Because people think of online video ads as closer to content, they are primed to engage and remember the ads and the brands that sponsored them

Interestingly, TV ads are seen as being made for “big brands” versus online video ads which are made for “my brands.” Koreans see online video ads as more connected to them and more personal. Online ads are also considered 1.8X less repetitive than TV ads.

Marketer takeaways:

Brands have a blank canvas for online video ads. Of course, you’ll want to create good-looking ads, but making fun and interesting content can take priority over expensive production values. And because people like ads that feel like content, you can play around with longer-form videos and even content series.

3. Viewers report TrueView’s skip button provides choice and control

That little skip button that pops up five seconds into a TrueView ad has powerful connotations for viewers. We found that because viewers are put in control and can make a choice, they are more open to video advertising.

TV ads are seen as being made for “big brands” versus online video ads, which are made for “my brands".

In fact, 59% of the people we interviewed said that they watch more online video ads than TV ads because they have control over the content they watch.

Marketer takeaways:

The skip button gives people the choice to watch or quickly move along. Advertisers need to create engaging stories and ads that grab—and hold—their audience’s attention. Brands can be more unskippable when they make careful choices about things like brand placement, tone, using recognizable/happy people, and music.

4. Ad exposure on mobile devices leads to follow-up actions

After watching a mobile video ad, 63% of Koreans search for related information on the brand, compared to 50% who do so after watching a TV ad. Unlike desktop and TV, mobile ad exposures lead people to take actions like watching other ads by the same brand or taking screenshots of the ad right away for later research. This is great news for marketers: It means viewers who are interested in your brand are able to (and want to) take action quickly.

Marketer takeaways:

Because mobile users tend to watch the full ad before searching for more information, put clear calls to action on companion banners or YouTube cards, like “learn more,” “buy now,” or “click for more information.” This will allow users to absorb the full message and then know exactly where they can go to take the next step.

Take cues from your viewers

Understanding why viewers prefer online video ads to TV ads can help inform your marketing strategy. Think about what choice, relevance, and relatable content means to Koreans and how you can make media and creative choices to pique their interest and meet their needs.

Ethnography and in-depth interviewers were conducted by Flamingo in Q3 of 2015. For one week, 14 participants aged 16-35 wore eye-tracking glasses to record their viewing behavior as they went about their real-life video watching. Six of those participants were interviewed in-depth about their key consumption moments.

Quantitative research was conducted by TNS in Q3 of 2015. The standalone survey was conducted among 500 respondents ages 18-39 who use mobile devices, TVs, or tablets.

The Search for Value: Malaysians’ Financial Search Trends